Updates to Clinical Practice Guidelines recently released by the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy and the Academy of Orthopedic Physical Therapy could help workers in California and around the country to avoid painful and debilitating knee injuries. The revised guidelines focus on injury prevention rather than treatment, and they are based on studies of exercise programs that have helped athletes to avoid knee injuries like anterior cruciate ligament tears. ACL injuries are common in certain occupations as well as in sports like football and basketball that require players to pivot, and recovering from them can take months.
The revised guidelines urge athletes and workers with physically demanding jobs to exercise regularly to prevent knee injuries and reinjuries. In addition to progressive resistance exercises that strengthen the muscles around the knee, athletes and physically active workers are advised to stretch regularly and engage in activities that improve agility.
Health care costs
The guidelines were changed for the first time in five years because several studies have shown that regular exercise that works the knee joint through its entire range of motion greatly reduces serious injuries like ACL tears. Preventing these sports and workplace injuries can greatly reduce health care costs because treating them often requires surgery followed by months of grueling physical therapy. Avoiding injuries can also save careers. Serious knee injuries sometimes force athletes into retirement, and workers who suffer them are not always able to return to their jobs.
Serious knee injuries can be extremely painful, and the people who suffer them do not always recover completely. Regular strength exercises, stretching and agility training may help physically active workers to avoid knee injuries that could end their careers. Employers should encourage regular exercise because preventing knee injuries should improve productivity and lower workers’ compensation costs.